he former bank was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and features a Grade II listed facade and interiors of historical interest. Little wonder then that entrepreneurs and wine enthusiasts, Grant Ashton and Niels Sherry, should earmark the building’s rich history and ideal location for their new Private Members’ Wine Club concept.
Explains Grant: “My vision for 67 Pall Mall was to create a traditional private members’ club where members and their guests can taste some of the world’s finest wines, dine in style, store their own precious bottles in our climate-controlled cellar and learn more about wine through our wine events calendar.
“Our brief to ISG was to make the concept work within the existing space, while using retained architectural features to inject new life into the building and maximise its character.”
The strip out had already been completed when ISG became involved as the scheme’s fit-out contractor, but the design for the interior was still at concept stage.
Explains Andy Demetriou, Divisional Managing Director of ISG’s Hospitality business: “We worked with our customer to develop the design and look at ways we could maximise the re-use of existing materials within the new layout, while sourcing materials and creating features that would be in keeping with the building.
“From our experience of refurbishment projects in heritage buildings, our approach to addressing buildability issues within the design and our in-house joinery workshop in Whitstable were all critical to realising the design aspirations and delivering 67 Pall Mall.”
The scheme involved extensive remodelling of the existing building, while reimagining some of the original features. The basement level has been converted to back of house facilities and glass washing. It also provides an ideal environment for storing wine and the bank’s original vault has become the secure cellar for the club’s most precious bottles and those of its members. ISG constructed a dumb waiter system featuring two hoists; an anti-vibration dumb waiter to carry wine up from the basement to the club and another to transport food from the lower ground floor kitchen to the members’ lounge on the ground floor.
In addition to a full commercial kitchen, the lower ground floor has been remodelled to include an events space that can also be used as a gallery area, with private dining capacity for up to 60 guests. Meanwhile, the ground floor has seen the addition of a mezzanine at each end of the now open-plan members’ lounge, maximising the potential of the building’s high ceilings.
On entering the building, members can opt to go either directly into the lounge or upstairs to the library on the mezzanine. The southerly mezzanine, at the far end of the lounge, houses the club’s office areas, plant room and inclusive access toilet.
Re-use and replicate
While ISG was not involved in the strip out, the company had ensured that all the original wood panelling and parquet flooring was salvaged and retained. The oak panelling has been used throughout the ground floor lounge but reinstating it was far from simple.
Andy continues: “Remodelling the building to create an open-plan lounge on the ground floor meant that we had to carry out an extensive cut and carve exercise, and the wood panelling became a giant jigsaw, which our joinery department pieced back together again.”
The joinery team was also responsible for reconfiguring the layout of the salvaged parquet flooring, which has been installed in the library on the mezzanine level. Meanwhile, new parquet flooring has been hand-crafted and aged to look original, ensuring a good aesthetic match across the ground and lower ground floors.
In addition to using the expertise in its own workshop to deliver the very highest standards, ISG handpicked a supply chain of specialists from across the UK to deliver distinct elements of the build. The toilets feature bespoke wooden cubicles and privacy screens built by specialist joiners in Birmingham, while the existing ornate GRG plaster ceilings and large coffer ceiling on the ground floor required the attention of skilled restoration specialists.
Andy adds: “A building like this needs genuine attention to detail and our supply chain contacts were critical to the success of the end result. Meticulous planning was also essential because the skills we required are so scarce.”
Precision and practicality
A walk around the refurbished club quickly demonstrates the level of care that has been invested in creating the very highest standard of finish. ISG was responsible for a full FF&E package as part of the fit-out and, where the company’s own joinery team was not involved, the engaged specialists were the very best in their fields.
Grant adds: “We wanted beautiful hand-turned tables that would be in keeping with the surroundings and ISG took us to Birmingham so that we could be involved in choosing the veneers. We felt involved in the scheme every step of the way.”
Not all of the specialist works were about glamour and tradition, however; ISG also had to tackle significant practical challenges due to the location and layout of the building. For example, a birdcage scaffold structure was erected on the ground floor to enable installation of the essential building services, with all plants brought into the building in component form through a window at the front of the property, and transferred across the scaffold to the rear mezzanine and rebuilt in the plant room.
Meanwhile to mitigate flood risk in the basement 6m below ground, ISG excavated and installed a large underground sewage holding tank to provide 4-hour containment on site.
Andy concludes: “The location, the nature of the building and the goal of reinventing it to the quality standards of a bygone era were all key challenges of this scheme. Our customer had a very clear vision of what they wanted to achieve and our team responded in the best possible way to deliver an outstanding private members’ club, entirely fit for the purpose of enjoying some of the world’s finest wines.”